Joyce Lishman

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Joyce Lishman
BornMay 1947
Died20 January 2021(2021-01-20) (aged 73)
Alma materUniversity of Oxford
University of Edinburgh
University of Aberdeen
Occupation(s)social work education and research
EmployerRobert Gordon University
Awardsdoctor honor causa The University of Edinburgh

Joyce Lishman (May 1947 – 20 January 2021) the first woman Professor at Robert Gordon University, was a leader in social work education and research.[1]

Education and career[edit]

Lishman was the first pupil from her girls' high school in Normanton to be admitted to the University of Oxford. She studied philosophy, politics and economics, graduating in 1968.[2] She then went on to study social studies and social work at the University of Edinburgh[3] graduating in 1970. She practiced as a social worker in child and family psychology.[3] This experience she built on later in her career by developing a new social work service for children suffering from cancer or leukemia and their families, including bereavement care[3] for the Malcolm Sargent Fund (now Young Lives vs Cancer or CLIC Sargent).[2]

In 1985, she became a lecturer then senior lecturer at what was then the Robert Gordon Institute of Technology.[3] In 1986, Lishman completed her PhD at the University of Aberdeen, with a study using videos to examine social work interviews.[3]

When Lishman was appointed as professorial head of the school of applied sociology in 1993,[4] she was the first female professor[1] at Robert Gordon University (RGU), Aberdeen.[4] She established the Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care (now CELCIS) in 2000,[5] bringing together specialists from RGU, Strathclyde University and other bodies[6] to improve training standards and practice in the third sector and also influence government policy for 'looked after' children.[6]

Lishman was said to have 'influenced social work and social care practice across Scotland for decades',[6] and for writing 'many iconic textbooks' known to thousands of students.[7]

She retired from RGU in 2011.[4]


Lishman authored 26 books.[1][3] These included a social work and social care handbook which over 25 years went to three editions (latest in 2015),[8] and in 1994, another Communication in Social Work was one of the standard texts[6] for social work practitioner education.[9]

She edited a research series Research Highlights in Social Work[3] which was said to have influenced social work in Scotland and across the world.[3] She published twenty six books either alone or in collaboration, such as with Ian Shaw, on Evaluation and Social Work Practice.[10][11] British Journal of Social Work noted the author's expertise and they recommended their book for graduate research students.'[12]

Other roles[edit]

Lishman also served on the board of charitable bodies: Lloyds TSB Foundation (now Corra[13]), Aberlour Child Care Trust and Voluntary Service Aberdeen. She became the chair of the Partnership Drugs Initiative[14] and a founding member of the philanthropic charity Inspiring Scotland in 2008.[15][4]

She also chaired the heads of social work education group for Scotland[16] and brought together standards for excellence in education in this field including the first interactive digital learning resources for social work in the world,[6] now known as IRISS. In 2010, her School of Applied Social Sciences and the Business School at RGU together with a private leadership and organisational development company (The Taylor Clarke Partnership Ltd.) won a National Training Award for 'Collaboration & Partnership' developing social services leaders across Scotland.[17]

For many years Lishman served on the Social Services Scotland Council,[4] [18] having been appointed in 2012 by the Scottish Minister for Education and Young People, for her experience in education and the third sector.[19]


In 2018, Lishman was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Edinburgh,[20][1]

Personal life[edit]

Joyce Major was born in Castleford, Yorkshire to Kathleen Major (née Leicester), a French teacher and Stanley Major, a salesman. She met and married Roly Lishman who was a computing science PhD student at the time, whilst she was working in social work in Edinburgh. They moved to Aberdeen in 1977 and whilst working on her own PhD, they had two children Tamsin and Ben. When she died in 2021, she was also a grandmother to three grandchildren.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d "Social work community has been saddened to hear of the death of Professor Joyce Lishman | School of Social and Political Science". Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Lishman, Tamsin (8 February 2021). "Joyce Lishman obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Professor Joyce Lishman, 1947-2021 – Social work at The University of Edinburgh". 9 February 2021. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Joyce Lishman - Robert Gordon University". Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  5. ^ "History of CELCIS | Scottish Institute Residential Child Care". Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e "An Appreciation of Professor Joyce Lishman". Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  7. ^ "Obituary: Professor Joyce Lishman – Social Workers' Educational Trust". 6 February 2021. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  8. ^ Lishman, Joyce (21 August 2015). Handbook for Practice Learning in Social Work and Social Care, Third Edition: Knowledge and Theory. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. ISBN 978-1-78450-010-8.
  9. ^ Lishman, Joyce (1994). Communication in social work. Basingstoke: Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-349-23219-2. OCLC 690776142.
  10. ^ Social Work : an Introduction. Joyce Lishman, Chris Yuill, Jillian Brannan, Alastair Gibson (2nd ed.). London. 2018. ISBN 978-1-5264-4772-2. OCLC 1017837357.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) CS1 maint: others (link)
  11. ^ Evaluation and social work practice. Ian Shaw, Joyce Lishman. London: SAGE Publications. 1999. ISBN 978-0-85702-206-6. OCLC 607521816.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  12. ^ "Evaluation and Social Work Practice". Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  13. ^ "About Corra". Corra. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  14. ^ "Partnership Drugs Initiative: A national approach to local funding in Scotland | IVAR". Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  15. ^ "Home". Inspiring Scotland. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  16. ^ "The framework for Social Work education in Scotland -". Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  17. ^ >nexus-january-2010 "Partnership Programme Recognised at National Training Awards". Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  18. ^ "Governance - Scottish Social Services Council". Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  19. ^ "New Members appointed to Scottish Social Services Council". Care Appointments. 3 September 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  20. ^ "Honorary graduates 2017/18". The University of Edinburgh. 17 April 2019. Retrieved 26 May 2021.